Financial Crisis and CSR

The most asked question to me in the last few days was if the current financial crisis has a negative impact on CSR, if it is the end of CSR or if CSR will die like so many other fashion terms after the first little wind blow.

Now my answer could sound bias, as I work in the field of CSR and consult companies, teach at Universities and hold lectures all over the world, but my statement is based on business experiance and scientific proof.

First: Never ever had we as a company had so many requests for CSR Strategy advice as in these last few days. And not from some exentric individuals who might believe CSR is a new religion in these shaky times, no, sound business enterprises in the multibillion turnover category or state institutions that reckognize, that CSR policy making might be a tool to help their organisations to help companies and individuals for the future development.

And secondly, the scientific proof. Now maybe some will say that is not necessarily scientific but it is common sense. And that is what CSR is lastly about the most - common sense. We are experiancing a trust crisis, banks do not trust each other anymore, not to speak about their clients whom two months ago they sold the products, the suppliers do not trust the companies and most of all, the consumers are beginning to distrust the future and therefor change their buying habbit from spending more than they have to less than they could. The cycle is moving downwards. How to bridge this trust gap? CSR could be the adequate tool. CSR is very much about HOW a company does its business. In the way HOW it does its business it shows, does it act responsible, does it respect common sense, does it respect its stakeholders, does it produce environmentaly friendly, is its business model sound and based on laws and that what we call societies expectations. And by showing this HOW, the customers will gain trust in the products, the shareholders trust in the sustainability of the business model, the stakeholders in the way they are informed and issues are dealt with.

CSR is a tool to overcome this crisis and put the economy on sound business pillars again. It might take some time for all stakeholders to realize it, as old trodden paths are conviniant to walk on, but sometimes it needs a new perspective to find an even better route to success. And of course all stakeholders wish the companies success, not only the board members. But this success might look slightly different in future.